Fair + Simple: A world-changing way to give
We are a family that cares deeply about stories. It's the "why" behind our blog, and it's the reason we have pursued a more ethical lifestyle. Because people truly matter, and there are stories tied to every item we own. We want those items to tell a joyful, empowering narrative of the artist that made each piece. Products that promote dignity, and gift giving that's also life giving.
At Christmastime, though, it often feels a bit challenging to make our shopping list for others, while at the same time balancing our desire to purchase intentionally. The stress that comes with selecting a perfect gift, yet also knowing it's origin is tough. But there is a dream solution...and Molly Acord, owner and founder of Fair + Simple, is the genius behind it.
Through her love for all things fair trade, Molly developed a simple shopping option that allows customers to purchase gift cards that can be redeemed by their friends or family for any item on their beautifully curated site of ethically sourced products. We loved this concept so much, because it provides a thoughtful and easy gifting option, and creates a fun and meaningful shopping experience for the person receiving the card.
This solution is life giving. These gift cards are empowering. And the heartbeat behind the business is inspiring. When you read further, you will feel it too. Molly was kind enough to chat with us more about the concept, the heart behind her business and some of her favorite products on Fair + Simple right now. If you are in the market to purchase in an impactful way this Season, then we know you will enjoy this conversation and amazing business:
How did Fair + Simple originate and what was your inspiration for starting this business?
When I first started thinking about shopping consciously, I was so paranoid about every purchase. I was so worried that my buying practices would negatively affect someone I had never met. When I learned about fair trade, I was captured by its antithesis: my buying practices could have a positive impact on others. It struck a chord, and I wanted to be a part of it in a bad way.
At the time, I was running a handmade business on Etsy while staying home with my children. This background as a maker has played a huge part in my journey with Fair+Simple. The time was getting close where they would all be in school and I would go back to work with my degree--elementary education. However, this seed for being involved in fair trade was growing. One day, when I as making beanies for a local market, the idea for the Fair+Simple card fell from the sky. I don't even remember my train of thought, but I have pursued it fiercely ever since the conception. It's like my fourth child...or second husband. Let's go with fourth child.
For those not familiar with the gift-giving model you offer, can you walk us through how it works?
If you don't know what to get someone, you can give them a Fair+Simple card and they can choose their own gift. A F+S card is redeemable for ANY single item in our collection. Every item is ethically sourced from companies that give back to people and the planet.
You give the card, they choose the gift, and we wrap it and ship it right to them. Fair trading | Simple giving.
The concept behind your company truly fits its namesake of being both Fair and Simple! Can you describe why both of those elements were key to your mission?
After the concept of the card fell into my mind and heart, the name quickly followed within minutes. My husband got a lot of phone calls that day.
As much as "fair" is the heartbeat of the company, the "simple" part is very important to me too. Shopping consciously can be very difficult and time consuming. And when it comes to gift giving, we want to give something we know the recipient will like. Or, when we are rushed or don't know the person well (like possibly a teacher or coworker), it's easy to give something generic like a coffee gift card. I want to offer a shopping experience that is just as simple, and also makes a positive impact.
We also offer a digital card to rescue last minute, conscious shoppers. Some people keep a F+S card handy for last minute, in person gifts; and we will soon be offering a printer-friendly card!
I love fair trade. I love simple things.
It’s evident that ethically made items are at the core of your business – why is curating fair trade products near and dear to your heart?
One of the things I love about fair trade is that it goes beyond fair wages, and targets wholistic employment to marginalized people groups who would not otherwise have the marketplace, tools, raw materials, or startup funds to bring a product to market. It's a leg up. I was given a sewing machine and taught how to use it and I was given a marketplace through Etsy. This handmade business of mine had allowed me to supplement our family's income for years - I want to do that same thing for others, especially those that would not otherwise have an opportunity. It's not a handout; it's a job. A dignified job in a safe place with good wages.
You have curated the loveliest list of women’s and men’s gifts on your site! What are some of your favorite items that you are loving from your Fair + Simple collections?
My all time favorite item is the fouta towel, woven in Guatemala. It is extremely absorbent, dries quickly, washes well, and packs up small. I rotate many of the items in the collection every spring/summer and fall winter so my customers can give the same gift every year with new gift choices, but this towel has been there as a staple since the beginning.
The beaded bone and brass bracelet set is the prettiest in all the land. I am such a tomboy, but I put this bracelet on and I feel like Beyonce. It is made by women in a very impoverished slum of Nairobi, Kenya. They take bone that would otherwise be discarded, and make it into something beautiful. This is a concept I am very drawn to.
For men, the high quality baby alpaca beanie does not disappoint. Guys like soft, warm things too!
Customers did ask for the option to purchase items directly even if they didn't have a card to redeem, so we added F+S: Direct for people to do just that.
What are a few of the ways that a purchase from Fair + Simple will impact the lives of others?
So many ways! I carefully vet the companies represented in the F+S collection, but I'm after the heart of why they exist. On top of having responsible practices, which should really be status quo, I'm looking for companies seeking to use business as a tool for social change. The gifts in our collection have a range of ways they are giving back:
-a resource center for women and children at risk or coming from homelessness, trafficking, abuse in the Philippines
-clean water initiatives in Southeast Asia
-education and job training for women seeking refuge in Kenya
-educational sponsorships and supplies for children in Haiti, Guatemala, and Kenya
-support of fair trade
This is just to name a few! When you are browsing on our site, you can read about how each item gives back. Every gift comes with a story.
Handmade items I feel are so special – they weave an important story about both the maker and the elements in their design. I was overjoyed when I saw how you used your own talents to design a dress pattern as a fundraiser for this year’s Dressember campaign! What inspired you to offer this pattern for others to use this year?
When I started F+S, I wasn't sewing as much. I missed it! I'm like a moth to a flame with my sewing machine. I have been working on a responsibly made children's line, Fair+Little, and learned how to digitize my patterns. In the meantime, I was asked to teach a local sewing class. I had the idea for the dress already, so I asked them to sponsor Dressember in lieu of my instructor fee. It was neat to see women empowered to sew and I loved talking about Dressember. I have a deep desire to use any skills that I have for others.
If people use my online tutorial and pattern, I am suggesting a $5 to my Dressember page. Adding it to a pinterest board is also helpful to create awareness and introduce the Dressember and the topic of trafficking to others through a little DIY.
Why is participating in this year’s Dressember campaign important to you?
I love the creative, out-of-the-box way that Dressember is generating money and awareness about the topic of human trafficking. The money is used in such practical ways to bring about justice, like rescues, hot meals, counseling, and job training. This campaign gives incredible momentum to the "ethical fashion" movement, while helping people that are victims and survivors of trafficking. That's definitely something I want to be a part of.
Where to Learn More?
You can learn more about Fair + Simple by visiting their website HERE -- also, go follow F + S on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for all the latest news, products and fair trade inspiration. You will absolutely love Molly and her business!
As a thank you to our readers, Molly has provided the discount code elleanorandindigo10 for 10% off your next purchase through 20 December!
Note: All photos by and c/o Fair + Simple!